HR’s Work Uniform

I got put on to an article recently about a female Art Director who decided to where the exact same outfit to work everyday.  She’s been doing it for the last three years:

“I have no clue how the idea of a work uniform came to me, but soon, the solution to my woes came in the form of 15 silk white shirts and a few black trousers. For a little personal detail, I remembered my mother loved to put bows in my hair as kid, so I chose to add a custom-made black leather rosette around my neck. Done. During the colder months, I also top my look off with a black blazer. I shopped all the pieces in one day. It burned a hole in my wallet to say the least, but in the long run, it has saved me—and will continue to save me—more money than I could imagine.

To state the obvious, a work uniform is not an original idea. There’s a group of people that have embraced this way of dressing for years—they call it a suit. For men, it’s a very common approach, even mandatory in most professions. Nevertheless, I received a lot of mixed reactions for usurping this idea for myself. Immediately, people started asking for a motive behind my new look: “Why do you do this? Is it a bet?” When I get those questions I can’t help but retort, “Have you ever set up a bill for online auto-pay? Did it feel good to have one less thing to deal with every month?”

I love the idea.

I recently went on a diet. I’m not a big dieter type.  But I’m completely comfortable with eating the same thing, every day, every meal. Give me a plan, and I’ll follow it.  For breakfast I have a banana and two eggs, mid-morning snack is a protein bar, salad with grilled chicken and fruit for lunch, Greek yogurt in the afternoon and a piece of fruit, for dinner it’s fish/chicken/steak, brown rice, veggie combo of some kind. I’m down about 15 pounds. I’ve been doing it for about six weeks or so. It’s easy.  I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat, and I like what I’m eating.

I could so easily wear the same thing to work every single day. I basically do anyway for the most part, dark dress slacks and button down shirt. It would be even easier to just keep it all the same.

I wonder what a good HR uniform would be?  Here’s my suggestion:

For the Men of HR: 

– Dress khakis (not the cotton type, the poly blend type. Cotton wrinkles to easily, and the cotton ones that don’t are Dockers and no one wants to see those.)

– White button down or predominantly white patterned button down (In HR you want to wear white, it symbolizes you’re on the right side of things. Pressed. Crisp.)

– Sweater vest  (Sweater vest screams secure, conservative decision making and trust. HR in a nutshell.)

– Wingtips (Brown, not black. Brown is soft and comfortable. Black is cold and hard.)

– Socks (Fun colors and patterns. This speaks to the culture you want, but aren’t willing to go all out for.)

For the Ladies of HR: 

– Dress slacks (Black or Navy, no Khaki for the ladies. Get some pants with some structure to them, no pseudo yoga pants, no one wants to see the HR lady’s cookie – shout out to my girl Mer! – and make sure they’re long enough.)

– White open collar shirt, sligh v-neck (You want classy, not sexy. Long sleeve or 3/4 sleeve. Spend some money so it’s not see through, or get white camis to go under.)

– Lightweight cardigan sweater (Color to match the season, plain, no patterns or picture of cats. This adds softness and approachability.)

– High heels to match the pants (Not hooker high, appropriately high.)

I would totally trust these two HR Pros above!

What do you think? What would you like for your daily uniform if you were going to wear the exact same thing to work every single day?

21 thoughts on “HR’s Work Uniform

  1. The idea is not bad and strikes very close to my own “uniform”. Some guys can carry off sweater vests just fine; I’m not one of them. Plus, not to be judgy about it, but sweater vests on most guys screams wuss (and I’ve seen this proven out many times).

  2. You almost lost me at sweater vest!

    My husband would love it if I did this – no more completely ridiculous clothing fights every morning (why do clothes look different than you remember on certain days).

    An even better reward: no more finally picking something, walking out the door and he says “you’re wearing that?”

  3. In San Antonio – If I wear a sweater vest I will die!
    Fortunately, as a recruiter I’m constantly working myself towards the fringes of HR.

    • Warner –

      Sweater vests can double as a bullet proof vest for the savvy HR pro!

      And they soak up coffee stains.


  4. Thanks for making me think and laugh, all in the same article. I thought cookies involved a browser setting…not trouser.

  5. I’d even go so far to say a shirt with a company logo on it. If you’re in HR you’re already a ‘company man/woman’ so why not show the colors. I’m out of HR today, but working with schools on a daily basis, so I wear a logo every day. I’ll pass on the wing-tips and wear the Dockers. If anything screams ‘old’ it’s a brown wing-tip!

  6. I am admittedly not up on men’s fashion, so I have to ask…what is wrong with Dockers?
    And for women, not all body types find button downs a great fit. I love them; they don’t love me (or my endowments) back. Guess I’m lucky I don’t work in actual HR. Just the industry lol

    • Julie –

      Docker’s are your Dad’s Khakis.

      Which might make them perfect in 99% of HR shops as a uniform! 😉


  7. Sometimes repetition is good (food, structure of your day, etc.) Don’t know about uniforms. I went to Catholic school and hated uniforms. I also work in an environment where we can wear jeans and sneakers. No matter what HR wears, trust is earned. Clothes don’t scream trust, character does. However, I like your eating choices. May have to put that one in my day.

    • Mike –

      I think a uniform, worn daily, demonstrates reliability. Employees know what to expect and get used to it. This helps to create comfort. All this leads to trust.

      Enterprise Rent-A-Car has their people where suit and tie on the frontlines of their operation. They basically are cleaning out rental cars in a suit and tie. Why would they do this? It creates a sense that our rental company is more professional than all the others. They went from no one, to the leading rental company in the U.S., with really only two differentiators – suits and picking people up.

      Once in a while I’ll throw in an individual pack of guacamole and pretzels for a snack! (Pro tips)


  8. Blue button down shirt. No sweater vest. More comfortable shoes than wingtips, especially for those of us who do not sit behind a desk all day.

    For women, shoes do not have to be heels. See the reason above.

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